I’m working on a story right now that focuses on painting. Describing paintings in fiction reminds me of something Steve Martin said:
Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.
A great writer could pull this off, but since I’m not W. Somerset Maugham, I was pleased to find that I could use Scrivener to help me get over my urge to cram in endless visual detail.
How Scrivener can help the visual writer
I’ve written about Scrivener before in a general sense, focusing on the organization mostly. This seems to be the feature that most writers like. However, as I live with this program, I’ve found that it has helped me with a little problem of mine…
When I start a story, I usually have a particular image in mind. I see a character, fully formed. Or perhaps it’s a setting. It could also be something as simple as a single object, a flower perhaps. In my studio, I have dozens of pictures taped to the walls that symbolize story ideas. I also draw a bit, and so sometimes I doodle scenes and such.
You might wonder why I don’t just do the graphic novel thing. The problem there is that I like to write too much. The images are just markers, but I love them anyway. Sigh.
Since the pictures are half the fun for me, I’m loathe to cut them. This tends to lead to far too much description in my writing and not enough action. In technical terms, it makes for a boring story.
However, using Scrivener, I break up all of my scenes into separate documents. Each document has a nifty notes field that can hold images as well as text. So, I can paste in pictures that I find inspiring (or my own silly doodles) and have the images riding along next to the very text I need to trim up.
This lets me enjoy the continuous image of the story as I see it while ripping out purple prose in guilt-free chop sessions.
To give you a flavor of what this looks like, I created a quickie Scrivener project. I copied in text from the Wikipedia article on Angkor Wat and then I grabbed a number of interesting pics using Google Images.
Hope this helps!
Some Scrivener link love…
Here are a few links from others who have found love in the app that is Scrivener. 🙂
Writing a Novel in Scrivener by Charlie Stross (Yes, that Charlie Stross)
Scrivener – What Writers Do When They Should be Writing (a little Scrivener review of mine)
Scrivener: Powerful OS X app for writers (Merlin Mann’s review)
Scrivener Review by Justine Larbalestier (very thorough)
Scrivener fangirl (cute graphic)
NYTimes – Interface of One’s Own (nice review by Virginia Heffernan, cribbed from Inkygirl)
Why I Love Scrivener (Elisabeth Hendrickson is a tech type who uses Scrivener, she loves the fact that Scrivener interfaces with svn. Even if you don’t know what svn is, the article is still very good.)